I WONDER if people dining in Lakeland’s First Floor Café at Windermere are aware of the culinary pedigree of the man who created their menu?

Or do punters enjoying the food in Hawkshead Brewery’s Beer Kitchen at Staveley consider the genius of the array of tapas on their table.

I doubt it – that’s because Steven Doherty has never been one to shout about his life’s work. And yet, the influence he has brought to bear on what we eat, and the way we eat it, is enormous.

It has been a long time in the coming, but thankfully now, with the publication of Living Over the Shop (published by Regional Magazine Company in softback, priced £14.95), I hope Mr D’s fan club will get a huge boost in membership numbers.

To summarise, in 1985 Steven was the first British person to become head chef of a three Michelin-starred establishment; in 1991 he became only the fifth British chef to be awarded a Master of Culinary Art; during his time at Winster’s The Brown Horse it was voted best pub in the country; within 12 months of opening The Punch Bowl at Crosthwaite it was ranked as one of the nation’s top ten country pubs by Which; and Steven was awarded North West chef of the year by Life magazine in 2002.

And that really is just a summary.

Of course, a lot of the aforementioned credits aren’t Steven’s alone; they have been achieved in partnership with his wife Marj who has enjoyed an illustrious career of her own. Of life over the Lakeland shop, Steven says: “Cooking outstanding basic food is a task in its own right. But doing it for up to 700 people on a busy day is another thing entirely and that’s what makes the place what it is.”

He also writes that it is as much a challenge running the First Floor as it is to work in some of the ‘most exalted kitchens in the land’.

There’s a nod to those kitchens with the inclusion of Le Gavroche recipe favourites like ‘souffle suissesse’. But by for the bulk of the recipes Steven shares in the book are First Floor favourites like seafood and spinach macaroni, duck and pork rillettes, chocolate stout cake and Tunisian-style orange and almond cake.

At the back of the book there’s a ‘cook’s essential armoury’, all of which can be found at Lakeland.

I rather think a copy of Living Over The Shop should be listed there too! And if you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for the cook in your life, then look no further.

And now for this week’s Checkout recommendations – celebrate National Craft Bakers Week at Grange Bakery with lots of free tastings plus ‘loaf cakes’ at £2.45 each eg: lemon drizzle and coffee and walnut; get all the ingredients for your Christmas cake at Bowland Bridge Stores eg: ground almonds (99p/100g) and sweetened red cherries (£1.95/200g); Greenbanks in Kendal has English sprouts on at 80p per lb; Cartmel Village Shop has lots of Christmas gift ideas eg: Cottage Delight jam or pickle ‘carousels’ (£14.50 each); and there are special offers at Richardsons butchers in Bowness (venison steaks £16.50/kilo, venison roasting joints £15.50/kilo, and stewing venison £11.50/kilo), at Plumgarths, Kendal (3lbs mince £7.99, 3lbs braising steak £9.99, and 3lbs stewing steak £8.99), and at Steadmans of Sedbergh (veal escalopes £14.19/kilo).